Handling All Necessary Matters in the Aftermath of a Death in the Family

there’s no training for this kind of thing. As a result, you may learn about many of the things you need to do after the fact, or you may have uncertainty about the right way to handle things. Here’s a checklist to  help you through this difficult time, so that you spend less time worrying about details and more time cherishing the life of your loved one and experiencing your grief.

  • Step One—The first thing you need to do is have your loved one declared legally dead. In many instances, there will be a doctor present at the time of death (or shortly thereafter). If the death occurs at your home or without a medical person present, you can call a hospice nurse or even an emergency medical technician. If the EMT is not allowed by law to pronounce death, they can take the person to an emergency room.
  • Step Two—Arrange for transportation of the body—Regardless of where your loved one died, the body must be transported for services and burial. As a general rule, this will be handled by the funeral home.
  • Step Three—Notify all necessary parties—That includes family, friends, employers, the deceased’s physician, and the county coroner, if required. When speaking to the employer, confirm whether the deceased had benefits or wages due, and whether there is a company-sponsored life insurance policy.
  • Step Four—Meet with your chosen funeral home and arrange for services and interment. Before you do, review all personal documents of the deceased to determine whether there was a prepaid funeral plan, and whether the decedent had life insurance. Encourage all immediate family members to attend this meeting and participate in the planning—it’s an integral part of the grieving process.
  • Step Five—Prepare an obituary. For assistance, go to our web page on how to write a memorable obituary.
  • Step Six—If your deceased was retired military or an active member in a religious or fraternal organization, contact the local Veterans of Foreign Wars or the religious/fraternal group. They may play a role in the funeral service or may offer financial assistance with the funeral or burial.
  • Step Seven—If the deceased lived alone, or if his or her house is temporarily unoccupied, find a friend or family member who will regularly stop by, check any phone messages, take in the mail, take out the garbage and attend to plants or pets.
  • Step Eight—Get copies of the death certificate. This will be required for many things, from submitting a claim on a life insurance policy to retitling motor vehicles to obtaining access to bank accounts. They may also be required by government agencies, investment advisors and other benefits administrators.
  • Step Nine—If the decedent had a will, take it to the probate court in the county where the deceased lived and have it accepted into probate. This will initiate the process of settling the estate. Once the will is accepted and an executor appointed, the executor should open a bank account in the name of the estate.

Parties You Need to Contact after the Death of a Loved One

The following individuals or entities need to be consulted or notified after the death of a loved one:

  • The deceased’s life insurance agent or company, to initiate a claim
  • The deceased’s investment advisor or broker, to obtain information on assets
  • The deceased’s bank, to ascertain what accounts were still open, and whether the deceased had a safe deposit box
  • Any government agencies from which the deceased received benefits, such as Social Security Administration or Veteran’s Affairs
  • A tax professional to determine whether an estate or final income tax return needs to be filed
  • An experienced estate administration lawyer to handle the probate proceedings
  • Any pension or retirement services, so that monthly payments can be terminated and arrangements can be made for survivor benefits, if applicable

Depending on the situation, you may also need to have the deceased’s mail forwarded or held, and may need to make changes in utility services.

Let Us Help You Handle the Details after the Death of a Loved One

At Gutterman’s, we offer comprehensive and compassionate funeral home services to individuals and families in New York and Florida. We can assist you with many of the tasks described above, from the transportation of the body to the planning of funeral and burial services. We often provide guidance with respect to the preparation of an obituary and can help you obtain necessary copies of death certificates. We work with life insurance companies, and can ensure that government agencies and others are properly notified of the death.

To learn about all the ways that we can be of service to you, call our offices at one of the numbers provided below. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to assist you.